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Bradenton widow finds hope in Golden Gate suicide net

Widow wishes Sunshine Skyway bridge had suicide net
There are no plans for a net to prevent suicides alongside the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Bradenton, Florida - The Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the four-mile long commuters' connection between St. Petersburg and Manatee County, is also a magnet for the troubled wanting to end their lives.

A Bradenton widow, whose husband took his life on the bridge, now finds hope in a prevention idea across the country as officials approve a net for the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Debbie Korell says her husband, Todd, didn't say goodbye.

"Today would have been his his 47th birthday," she said. "People handle stress differently and he just short-circuited. One night he got up in the middle of the night and drove the car to the top of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and he jumped right near 12:30 because that's the time that was on his watch when he died."

10 News is reporting on a suicide in this case because it occurred in a public place. Find out more about the station's crime guidelines, by clicking here.

She says her husband was troubled over recent deaths in their family as well as a major move from Chicago to Bradenton. The information technology professional had to search for not only a new job but new friends.

Debbie says she is encouraged over what is happening in San Francisco where the Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors approved $76 million for a stainless steel net that will stretch about 20 feet wide on each side of the bridge's one-and-a-half-mile span. Since the bridge opened in 1937, nearly 1,600 people have plunged to their deaths but the net is a move to try to prevent deaths.

"I think that's a fabulous idea," said Debbie Korell. "After Todd died I tried contacting people to ask about putting up some sort of net on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and all I got was we can't do it because it might kill the birds or ruin the aesthetic view."

The Florida Department of Transportation oversees the Skyway and while there's no plan in the works for a net, Kris Carson, a spokeswoman for the agency says they have long since tried to prevent suicides.

She points to the 24-hour video monitoring of the bridge and other roads in the Bay area at their Traffic Management Center. Carson says in addition to that, "We actually pay the Florida Highway Patrol to get up there to patrol the bridge frequently so we can prevent suicides."

RELATED: More information on the Skyway

She also says there are several solar-powered phones on the bridge that ring directly to a crisis hotline.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay at (813) 964-1964, or 2-1-1 to connect with Tampa Bay Cares.


Tampa Bay Cares offers help

More facts on the bridge

Recalling the collapse decades ago